New York City liberals went along with 9/11 trial, until the reality of it became unbearable

A story in today’s New York Times tells how the city’s officialdom, including an influential downtown community board, switched from supporting the Obama plan to try the 9/11 terrorists in the city to opposing it. It was when Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly recently spelled out the details and costs of the security measures that would have to be in place in lower Manhattan, perhaps for years. In my view, the story does not speak well of these people, almost all of whom are Democrats. It means that they supported the horrible Holder-Obama decision for over two months, right up to the moment when the full physical and economic costs of it were explained to them, and only at that point did they realize that it went “too far” and they balked. And that goes most of all for Mayor Bloomberg, who fully embraced the plan from the start, even though, as we learn in this article, he was not consulted by Attorney General Holder prior to the decision’s being made. To me it’s incredible that Holder and Obama took such an audacious step without getting the mayor’s prior approval, but they seem to have known their man, since, when Holder, just a couple of hours before he made the public announcement on November 13, told Bloomberg about the decision, Bloomberg, instead of saying, “How dare you take this step that affects New York City in such a momentous way without first consulting me?”, wagged his tail like a poodle.

But this pattern, in which people go along with an insane and impossible idea, and only oppose it when it becomes literally, instinctively, unbearable to them, is standard liberal behavior. It is the basis of the unprincipled exception, that mechanism by which liberalism keeps itself from going over the cliff without invalidating its own principles. The UE works like this. Liberalism, in order to maintain itself in existence, prohibits liberals from opposing a liberal idea on the basis of reason and principle; it only allows them to oppose it on the basis of sheer gut instinct—instinct which does not directly challenge liberal principle. Following the liberal principle that there is no such thing as enemies and evil, only violations of law, Obama-Holder decided to treat as an ordinary criminal the mastermind of the greatest act of war ever committed against the continental United States, and bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York City for a federal trial. Two months of reasoned and passionate argument by conservatives against this monstrous decision had no effect on the liberals who run the city. Only when Commissioner Kelly spelled out for them in graphic and disturbing detail what the trial would actually mean for lower Manhattan did they “get” it, and then, like a flock of birds suddenly changing their direction in unison, they began to speak out against the trial, and it became politically correct to do so. At that point Bloomberg, this past Wednesday, uttered a couple of mild words to reporters to the effect that he would prefer that the trial be moved elsewhere, and Obama instantly told Holder to look for other venues. The fact that it was so easy to get Obama to change the plan shows that if Bloomberg had shown the slightest reservations about it in November, Holder wouldn’t have gone ahead with it, and New Yorkers would have been spared two and half months of anguish.The sine qua non of Holder’s horrible announcement on November 13 was Bloomberg’s lapdog-like acceptance of it.

—end of initial entry—

TT writes:

Regarding your comment on how liberals suddenly and in unison changed direction on the idea of having terrorist trials in New York, their sudden change not coming from months of rational arguments but rather a sudden gut instinct when faced with the awful reality of it: How will that sort of method of dealing with the world play out with regard to the spread of Islam in the West?

It would seem obvious to anyone of reasonable intelligence that Islam simply cannot be allowed in the West, that no good can come from that, that after years of aggravating battles in every institution in the West trying to accommodate or assimilate Islam at some point the West will simply be destroyed from the fight alone. If the liberal method of not facing reality until it is forced upon them continues, they will not realize what Islam is doing until it is too late to do anything about it.

What event or change in circumstances could cause liberals to recognize the threat of Islam when there is still enough time to do something about it? As Islam spreads through all institutions, schools, police and fire departments, courts, hospitals, community organizations, it will become at some point impossible to eradicate as for instance some police departments or courts refuse to enforce laws restricting Islam, the institutions themselves will be Islamized enough to prevent their own change back to an American institution. Even the armed forces are not immune from this and one can easily envision different groups of Muslims fighting for their own interests over that of the nation even there.

The very gradual nature of the spread of Islam may in the end prevent liberals from ever facing reality ensuring the death of the West at the hands of Islam.

A. Zarkov writes:

The message I get from this story: New York City is a very brittle system. When something is extremely brittle, it breaks when you perturb it. If unacceptable costs arise from just from holding a trial, then what else might do the same? Suppose a terrorist blows himself up in Bloomingdales, or even Zabar’s. He wouldn’t kill a lot a people, but the psychological impact would be tremendous as the wives of the rich and powerful shop at places like these. If the terrorists coordinated multiple attacks at the same time, I suspect the city would go into a paroxysm. So why hasn’t Al-Qaeda done something like this? Perhaps it’s not so easy with all the surveillance already in place. Perhaps Al-Qaeda doesn’t have the resources to pull it off. If either is the case, then New York City is not so brittle after all. In which case why all the worry and expense about a trial? We would have to believe that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) is something really special for Al-Qaeda; so special they would be willing to try something really risky for them. In short this whole story does not hang together for me. I think the KSM trial was a show of bravado for the Obama administration. Now with Obama and the Democrats weakened by the election of Scott Brown to the Senate, we have new game. Moving the KSM trial away from New York City is more in the nature of a retreat on their part than a worry about the security expense. They are becoming afraid of the voters and the voters don’t want the trial in NYC. By “voters” I mean people outside liberal New York.

LA replies:

Yes, It’s all comes down to a perceived shift in the collective “mood.” It’s not based on reason.

Thus Sen. Feinstein this past week said something like, “Everything is different as a result of the Christmas day terror attempt.” Why is it different? She articulated no reason. If the KSM trial was ok with her before Christmas, why is it not ok now? It seems to be about some vague notion that now we’re more concerned about terrorism, and want to be harder on terrorists. But of course terrorism hasn’t changed, so she’s really saying it’s just a matter of how we all feel.

Or perhaps there was a rational argument underlying her comment after all. Perhaps she meant: “Prior to the Abdul Mutallab incident, I agreed with the Obama administration in treating terrorist enemies of the United States as ordinary criminals. But now I realize that this was a mistake. Therefore I oppose bringing KSM to the U.S. for trial.”

If she did say that, then she would be making a rational argument., But (as far as I’m aware) she didn’t say it. She just appealed to some inchoate shift in the emotional consensus. Such is liberal rule.

Steve R. writes:

To sum up a great insight and analysis: The Naked City collides into the naked truth (of the unprincipled exception).

James P. writes:

Mr. Zarkov writes,

“Suppose a terrorist blows himself up in Bloomingdales, or even Zabar’s. He wouldn’t kill a lot a people, but the psychological impact would be tremendous as the wives of the rich and powerful shop at places like these. If the terrorists coordinated multiple attacks at the same time, I suspect the city would go into a paroxysm.”

There is a recent article about attacks on malls in the American Thinker. The author describes a number of possible methods of attack, and suggests a number of defensive measures, such as barricades, armed mall security guards, and armed customers. Nowhere in the article, or in the comments, does anyone appear to recognize the obvious fact that a truly effective defense is impossible. There are too many potential targets, and too many ways to attack them. The only way to ensure that a Mumbai-style attack does not occur is to ensure that the terrorists are not among us in the first place. If the Muslim population of the United States were zero, and the border were controlled, then the likelihood of such attacks would be essentially zero.

Paul Nachman writes:

What’s the difference between the unprincipled exception and simple hypocrisy?

Isn’t this present case simply a matter of the NYC liberals suddenly recognizing that their ox was to be gored?

Maybe it’s not quite hypocrisy, since I doubt that they considered bringing the ragheads to civilian trial elsewhere in the country would be goring somebody else’s ox—I presume they simply couldn’t be bothered to think about it at all in that case.

LA replies:

There is a relationship between hypocrisy and the UE, since in both cases the person is upholding a principle that he is not following, at least in the present instance. I’ll reply later on why they’re not the same thing.

JC writes from Houston, Texas:

This young man was obviously not “every bit an Alabaman as his mother.” It’s sad to see places like Daphne now afflicted with this type of thing. Daphne is right across the bay from the city of Mobile, where my father was born and raised. The family immigrated from Ireland and settled in Mobile in the late 1830s. My great grandfather served in an Alabama regiment in Stonewall Jackson’s division of the Army of Northern Virginia. I don’t recall seeing any names like Hammami on the roster of the 3rd Alabama infantry regiment.

Melissa M. writes:

Problems with staffing the KSM trial might be the reason for going back to a military tribunal. Attorney Eddie Hayes, who was a guest on The John Batchelor Show Friday, brought up two good points, one, if holding the trial outside of a major urban center, in a more easily defensible smaller town, how would one transport and house all the prosecutors, lawyers, judges, FBI, etc., for years.

The other point he made was what judge would willingly take the case, when security and body guards will be required for him, his spouse, children and grandchildren for years, maybe decades (and that’s not mentioning the concerns for the jurors).

LA replies:

Holder’s response to your criticisms would be (it’s an argument he used when he made the announcement in November): “The U.S. has the greatest criminal justice system in the world. We can handle it.”

He doesn’t care HOW those resourses are being used and wasted and damaged. He just sees that they exist, and he wants to take advantage of them for his own, anti-American purposes, just like all leftist parasites.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 30, 2010 11:27 AM | Send

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